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Thilo sets the quality that we all aspire to, so as well as providing a bridge between publishers, particularly small ones such as myself, and customers, he also pushes up standards.
He also puts in an amazing amount of time and care in his reviews which make them great to read for publishers as well. As writers, we all reach out to the community with our thoughts and ideas, and Thilo is fantastic for answering us back.
I always look forward to reading his reviews of my products, and I too use his reviews of other people's products to inform my purchasing decisions.
I thought for once I would announce this here.
Here's the link:
This is an investigative adventure, mainly set within the bounds of an opulent town called Twisted Bridge. After the initial wilderness parts during which the PCs gather their first set of clues, the adventure turns into a sandbox-style investigation within the town itself (i.e. there is a PC-key to the map of the town which you can give to the PCs with the map whilst keeping the GM-key to the town for yourself).
There are plenty of RP opportunities without being RP dependent. The PCs have real freedom to do what they want whilst at the same time you as GM can take control of the pace of the adventure by deciding when the climax should take place.
And, indeed, there are plenty of macabre elements here which I hope you and your players will find both interesting and amusing.
All the best
3PPs will tend to gravitate towards where there is most demand. They would still explore niche areas if consumers bought those particular products so as long as there is interest you wont lose that part of the 3pp product line.
As to your other point - well, my experience with Glorantha was that when Greg Stafford bowed out for a while (for whatever reason, probably commercial but I really don't know), the fans moved in and wrote loads of Gloranthan material. Then Greg came back and took up the reigns again, and everyone went with what Greg did because it was his world. The writers who found their material over-ruled got a bit fed up from time to time but it was just accepted that this was the risk that you took writing for a world you didn't own.
And I'm pretty sure Greg didn't feel that his hands were tied in any way by what other writers had produced.
I don't think that there would be very many fan-wars about what version of Golarion was the right one. Paizo's Golarion will always be the right one.
In my opinion most role play happens between the PCs. It doesn't require any great skill, acting or what have you, it's just naturally what happens when people get into character (or, at least, suspend disbelief and pretend to be in the fantasy world).
The difference between a non-RP and an RP encounter is frequently as simple as whether the monster jumps you (non-RP) or whether you see it in the distance and plan for it (RP).
I think RP gets a bit of a bad name when presented as some sort of formulaic "socialise-at-party" or "question-the-suspects" or "work-out-the-traitor" conundrum with a right or wrong answer. RP is very subjective and the module writer needs to be quite careful about deciding what is good or bad RP. This is one of those things that really belongs in the realm of the GM to decide with a view on his own players. As a writer your best bet is to present RP in support of encounters and story-telling but always allow for the fact that players and GMs might disagree with your views and go in a totally different direction.
Additionally, skills like diplomacy and intimidate are there for people who don't want to RP. I find them a bit frustrating, myself, but I accept that they're there. In fact I've just written the following paragraph in the module I'm currently writing:
"From a game point of view, reading the intimidation rule too literally will replace a great part of the interaction which takes place in an investigative scenario with a few simple dice rolls. This can be good if your players are getting frustrated with the adventure but I personally would suggest you try role playing before rolling the dice."
(not in answer to anyone in particular)
Role playing encounters shouldn't have prescribed outcomes.
The whole point about role playing is that you should be allowed to do whatever you want. There shouldn't be a "right" thing to do.
Role playing encounters fail when the players feel forced to role-play something which goes completely against their nature.
This isn't the fault of "role play" as such, it's the fault of the module.
Non-RP, i.e. combat, encounters are much easier to design, of course. The players generally only have one thing they can do: fight. And there is only one desirable outcome: win.
A humanoid creature killed by a shadow becomes a shadow under the control of its killer.
If this new shadow then kills a humanoid, that humanoid becomes a shadow in control of the shadow that is in control of the original shadow.
This puts most shadows in positions of middle management. Since there doesn't seem to be a way of "firing" your subordinates, I imagine that once you've got 100 shadows working for you, and you're one of a 100 shadows working for your boss, you're going to have a nervous breakdown.
If I was a shadow, I'd rather hide in the ruins and go "boo".
Ross Byers wrote:
It's a fair point, except that adventures don't tend to go charging through Abyssal suburbia pulling demonic clerks out of their demonic 3-bedroom semis and slaughtering them for their demonic play stations and jewelry boxes.
The demons that adventurers meet will be the equivalent of mercenaries / professionals who have indeed put most of their wealth into survival.
Monster's being "mass produced" sits uncomfortably with me, I must admit.
I see the bestiary as providing examples of particular creatures, not rigid templates.
If swapping one feat for another changes the CR for a monster, then it also changes the level of a PC.
If PCs can customise their characters as much as they like and still be considered the same level in the whole APL vs CR balance check, then the same has to hold true for monsters.
I also think that the CR of a monster should allow it to use its equipment.
Perhaps the best way to decided whether a monster is over or under CRd is to compare it with a PC of the appropriate level, appropriately customised (!) and appropriately equipped.
w.r.t. Vital Strike and touch attacks
The Colour out of Space (note the "u" in colour) as originally presented in Wake of the Watcher had Vital Strike with Disintegrating Touch.
In d20pfsrd, Vital Strike has been replaced with Weapon Finesse, though it makes little sense to me. (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/oozes/colour-out-of-spac e)
I'm not quite sure where the Colour got it's +15 on the touch attack in the first place, but presumably with Weapon Finesse that should be +22.
I don't know where the revision in d20pfsrd comes from, BTW.
w.r.t. Ashiel's improved Witchfire, I can't see what the problem is. It can do a million d6 damage if it wants - at that sort of level, having an obliterating attack isn't unusual. The problem with the thing is that it's a one-trick pony; anything with fire immunity can ignore all those d6s and just deal with its summoned wisps (if it gets them).
Just the latter - how I would do it.
I just wanted to say as a word of encouragement to 3pp adventure writers that the big advantage that you have over "crunch" writers is that you can take your work to other systems, both current and future. It takes effort, of course, but I'm sure you could re-use about 50% of what you've produced.
Having said that, I've not done so myself, so if anyone here has, please comment.
I think adventure revenue could be much more long-term. If you think you might have, say, potential sales of 200, then you might get 70 of that with Pathfinder, another 50 with OSR, and so on. If you sold more with one system you'd sell less with others because I don't think that, in the main, people like to re-visit adventures.
It's just conjecture on my part, but I think that in the long-term you'll get your sales figures though you may have to find a number of ways (systems) of getting it to market.
Thank you very much for all the answers.
I accept that the GM can take the role of modifying encounters to suit the party.
However I would also like to consider this question with the GM as a disinterested party.
I think that there are three schools of players who prefer a GM to act in this way.
The first are the ones who simply want the GM to run an adventure as written, possibly because they don't trust the GM to do any fiddling about with it.
The second are the ones who see the creation of a PC group that are able to deal with any "reasonable" challenges to be part of the challenge of the game.
The third group are the ones who value consistency and "believability" in a game world.
I belong to both the second and third group.
My view is that once I have a rough idea what a campaign is going to be about (e.g. by reading the player's guide for the AP we're going to be in), then it's up to my fellow players and I to produce a party that is going to be able to deal with all of the "reasonable" challenges that we're likely to encounter. I don't particularly want the GM to start adjusting the encounters to compensate for our strengths and weaknesses - if we're out of balance, that's our problem to sort out, not the GMs.
I also dislike the idea that the shape of the world is going to change to suit me in some way. It breaks my sense of immersion. Part of believability means that the NPCs and monsters that live in this world behave in a way which is optimal to their survival. I'm quite happy to accept that I have a sixth sense with my PCs which allows me to gauge what adventures are within my grasp and which ones are too hard, but after that I expect to be confronted by situations which feel like they could have come out of a well written fantasy book.
There is also a final group of people who are interested in looking at GMs from this disinterested point of view and that's the adventure writers. Writers have to think about getting the balance right in their adventures without having any idea what PCs are going to be run in it. You might assume that a GM will tailor the adventure to suit the PCs if the party is extreme but on the whole you want to pay attention to balance because you want to minimise the amount headache that you cause the GM.
And, IMO, adjusting encounters for players is a headache for GMs.
I know that is just one way of looking at things and I'm sure there'll be people who think it isn't possible to run a game with a disinterested GM. As an old gamer (!) I know that that was a central concept of FRPGs in the past, and like I said I still think there is a contingent of gamers who are interested in that concept being preserved in their games now.
Which brings me back to the question of balance in its, if you like, theoretical form - i.e. the CR system.
Maybe I should re-phrase my original question and ask if the CR system is broken, just how broken is it?
For example, if a CR 5 encounter is supposed to be "challenging" for a party of four 4th level characters, then just how true is this given the variability of a CR 5 encounter and the possible difference in the construction of the four 4th level characters?
Attention 3rd-party publishers - interviews to promote your products + discussion about freelancing for your 3pp
My question does not in any way indicate a desire to publish other people's work as my own. Honestly, I've just been through this. The only thing that asking a question indicates is a desire to get to an answer.
I'm not even that interested in the Bonerattle spell. I just used it as an example.
Can we please try to keep to the issues and not descend into ad-hominem attacks.
Chuck Wright wrote:
That is something which should be fought, IMO.
This is one of the reasons why I resist the suggestion that you should always consult a lawyer. It excludes people who can't afford to do so, or forces them to go to publishers who may reject them.
I have nothing against either lawyers or publishers, but I don't think they should be mandatory. Everyone should have the right to write. Of course there are going to be rules, but the whole thing shouldn't be some sort of horrendous mine-field. I would hope that anyone who takes sensible steps such as reading the licence guidelines and maybe some of these forum posts would be able to produce gaming material off their own back with minimal cost to themselves. It doesn't mean anyone is going to read it or buy it, but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't be allowed to produce it, and without running up huge lawyer bills or lying awake at night worrying about litigation.
This goes outside of gaming as well, of course. If you lose your free speech you pretty soon lose your freedom.
Jack Vance is one of my favourite authors. A real wordsmith, with a wicked sense of humour.
He only died last year, BTW.
AFAIK, the Vancian magic system appears in the Lyonesse trilogy (of which books I and III are the best), and the Dying Earth books (a short story collection of the same name + Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel's Saga and Rhialto the Marvellous).
I've read all of these books at least twice. The Lyonesses ones are quite epic - if you want a short introduction then either the Dying Earth short stories or The Eyes of the Overworld novel are the place to go.
I love them.
NPCs with character classes represent about 5% of the population.
PCs are superior to NPCs with character classes because they have superior stats and a couple of traits.
PCs are governed by the same rules as NPCs - i.e. the inhabit the same "world", have the same concerns, advantages, barriers, hangups, etc.
That's it - everything else is down to the player.
My definition of heroism is similar to my definition of bravery, honesty, integrity and so on. It's something that you earn by your actions, not a label you can just pin on yourself whenever you want to.
You have to declare that you're using Guidance before making the roll.
We've been getting this rule wrong for more years than I can remember.
P.S. If as a GM you ask your player to make a DC 20 Fort save, for example, then by RAW you have (rather unfairly) prevented him from using his Improved Great Fortitude re-roll.
I understand where the discussions are funneling down to and I do understand where you guys are coming from.
However I have difficulty, I must admit, abandoning the premise that the fantasy world should be a natural repercussion of the rules.
Paying attention to logic means we can have the sorts of discussions we've been having in this thread even during the game. As long as we, as players, and GMs, believe that the setting makes reasonable sense, then we can start interacting with it in terms of its own logic, rather than in terms of the rules.
I know there is a limit to this, but it's a limit I'm quite careful about pushing. And when I write material for other GMs to use, I worry quite a lot about setting-logic.
I'm also not terribly keen on the idea that PCs should have options available to them which the NPCs don't.
To my mind the game is the most fun when not only does the world feel real but also the PCs only have *some* measured / controlled advantage.
In D&D/Pathfinder PC advantage comes down to superior stats and access to PC classes in a world where only 5% of the remainder of the population is good enough to do the same. That's enough of an advantage for me - I don't really need the odds to be further tilted in my favour by being, for example, the only witch that can choose her patron.
I can accept the fact that every character in this fantasy world whose skin I inhabit is one of the superior ones. We none of us want to role-play farmers. However once I'm part of the PC-classed elite, I'm happy for all of us, PCs and NPCs, to be in the same boat.
If the world loses too much of its logic or I start to become too *special* within it then, within reason, which I know is woolly and subjective and all the rest of it, I start to disengage from it.
Finally I would like to say that whilst I think that these discussions we've been having are fascinating, lead to further appreciation and understanding, I do not believe that they can ever be conclusive.
I posted earlier about how nice it would be to be able to simulate the Pathfinder world using a supercomputer and see how things turn up after a century or so. Not only do we not have such a thing, I honestly do not believe that anyone on this earth could possibly predict how it would turn out. It's far too complicated.
We all have our opinions and it's great to share them and argue over them but I don't think anyone can ever imagine that they can actually work out the answer. What I hope is that we roughly speaking converge or something we think is likely - i.e. sufficiently logical that we can think about what advice we might give to, say, some village leaders when they hear giants have moved in the area. Go find yourself a witch? Build up your defenses? Send an emissary? Etc.
The way you're evaluating probabilities - it makes it sound as if you think the Witch will never get a chance to use its Hex - or maybe once in its career!
I think that if that had been the case then this thread wouldn't have got past about 10 posts.
You will always be able to argue that the chances of any given set of circumstances occurring is ridiculously low.
However you have to factor in all the other sets of circumstances that work plus the number of opportunities that there are for any of those situations to happen.
IMVHO - Slumber Hex opportunities, both in play and in world-setting, are quite common.
As for Charm Person, I don't think it's that strong. I don't do what my trusted friends tell me to do. I listen to them. I don't attack them. But if I think I know best I follow my own convictions. Charming a Hill Giant, assuming you can then talk to it, is probably just going to result in a pat on the back and an invitation to "dinner" afterwards.
At first level you don't meet the prerequisite of having the hex class feature. You need to meet the prerequisites BEFORE you take a feat not as you gain something at a particular level.
That's, actually, not correct. From the SRD:
"When adding new levels of an existing class or adding levels of a new class (see Multiclassing, below), make sure to take the following steps in order. First, select your new class level. You must be able to qualify for this level before any of the following adjustments are made. Second, apply any ability score increases due to gaining a level. Third, integrate all of the level's class abilities and then roll for additional hit points. Finally, add new skills and feats. For more information on when you gain new feats and ability score increases, see Table: Character Advancement and Level-Dependent Bonuses."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but if a 1st level Witch (with Slumber) and a 1st level Fighter encountered a Frost Giant (toe-to-toe), who would win?
Prior to the Slumber Hex, going back right to the beginnings of D&D, the answer would be the Frost Giant - hands down, no contest.
Now, it's 50/50. Pretty much - allowing for the initiative roll (which the Witch ought to win) and the coup-de-gras (which the Giant ought to fail, especially if the fighter has a Greataxe).
I know that Slumber Hex has been debated before, but it does seem like quite a big deal to me. It certainly spells the demise of the solitary monster encounter - unless it's immune to sleep.
It also means there's a massive difference between a party with a Witch with Slumber and one without. Sure, the Witch might on balance not be out of balance (not sure about that, but whatever), however having one on board makes quite a bit difference to the way that a number of encounters are going to play out.
@nate - I did read your post, yes, and I see what you mean. Having said that, Summoners are one of the few classes that I haven't really tried to get to grips with.
@Pupsocket - the "where it counts" is indeed the issue, and about how much more important it is to be where it counts as opposed to elsewhere.
This is also about whether you maximise strengths or minimise weaknesses.
In my group, for example, we have found that having optimised fighters with bad will saves is a liability for the party, because at some point they end up confused or dominated and turned against us.
Is it really better for a fighter to have STR 18 WIS 7 as opposed to STR 16 WIS 13?
(or WIS 12 and +1 on some other dump stat)?
Sure, the argument will be more favourable with CHA with fighters, but I still wonder whether how much sense there is in eeking out that final +1 stat bonus when it's costing you +3 somewhere else.
Although druids and the like replacing their animals sounds cool, don't forget that they arrive untrained - i.e. they will only have their free tricks.
There is no such thing as a light club or a two-handed club, and a greatclub isn't a club (with particular reference to Shillelagh).
You can't AoO something swimming past you if you are on land unless you have Freedom of Movement because they get improved cover from you (+8 AC!)
Zombies lose their special attacks (e.g. zombie Giant Squids cant constrict).
Great product (just got mine).
However, only one pawn was mounted, and that was actually the pawn for the camel (it's funny how pathfinder assumes that a camel isn't a camel if it hasn't got a saddle on and, preferably, a rider).
Anyway, might a suggest a "mounted npc pawn pack" for sometime in the future?
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Rolemaster's alive and well, actually (see http://ironcrown.com/).
Further to JJ's comment here:
w.r.t. the saves rather than whether gibbering should be sonic, could we please have the DC changes made in the faq.
It is a pretty big difference to the challenge difficulty of a Gibbering Mouther.
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
You're probably thinking of the pre-3E market research by Wizards of the Coast, which revealed that most campaigns only last 6 months or so.
I'm sure you're right. I wonder what the reasons for this are and what's happening now.
@Vic: Please excuse me posting one more time on this discussion Scott and I have been having but I'll keep it brief.
@Scott: My perception of the risk of adventuring is different to yours. I know the game is played a bit differently now but I think that an adventuring group that thinks, plans, invests in healing and defence and, most importantly, knows when to run away, has a pretty good survival rate. Furthermore, the rewards in terms of ensuring future survivability (money and levels) makes the risk worthwhile, whereas forsaking this by going up levels of commoner or expert could well, in the long term, be a more risky strategy for longevity. Only my opinion, of course, and I'm sure we can agree to differ.
It's pointless asking me why I might expect a trend to change when neither of us have any idea what that trend has been.
The only survey-based fact that I have ever heard, and I can't remember where it was, was that most gaming groups only last 6 months or so.
Even then, I might be wrong, however if you know of any statistical analysis along these lines that we can all look at then please point in the right direction.
The reason that I am concerned about GM shortage is because I think over the last 10+ years or so GMing enjoyment has been sacrificed for the sake of player enjoyment.
I've been GMing since 1979, and I certainly feel that way from my own experience. I love all of Paizo's material, but I love it much more as a player than as a GM. I've changed from someone who used to be happy to GM constantly to someone who would rather play than GM, though I'm happy do my fair share of GMing both for the sake of the group and because I enjoy it as long as I'm not doing it all the time.
This is entirely on the basis of my own personal experience, which is all I am qualified to comment on, nothing to do with underlying logical factors or world-spanning charts or examples. If my experience is typical, then I *feel* that there is a danger that good GMs will start to become harder and harder to come by.
And if I'm in any way right, then I think that gaming companies, like Paizo, need to try to look ahead 5 or 10 years to see if there is a trend. And if there is, and there may well not be, and I might be completely wrong, but *if* there is, then I think that the game needs to start repositioning itself a little bit towards a more gestalt approach to players and GM, where GMs are seen more as the "keepers of secrets" for a given module rather than anything with any more power or accountability, and where it is expected that the role of GM will rotate between the members of the group.
Scott Betts wrote:
I don't think that the GM population is in any danger of abandoning Paizo due to a perception that not enough setting material is being produced. As we've noted, they're churning out more setting material than just about any other company right now. Even if the GMs did decide to jump ship (and they won't, because Paizo is meeting or exceeding their needs), they'd have no better option to turn to.
Well, you're speaking as *every* GM now, and I don't think you know any more than I.
I think the biggest danger to this game will come through a GM shortage crisis. I, personally, reached the decision after the last 6 years of solid GMing that GMing was half-work-half-fun and playing was all-fun, so I announced to my group that I was no longer prepared to do it all and we now have a round-robin system which more and more players are joining in with. In my opinion, this was the best decision I ever made, because now we share the responsibility for rules policing, interpretation, judgement, and for everyone having a good time around the table, as well as sharing the work. I believe that in time this will happen more and more. I honestly think that's the future of the game.
Of course I know there are plenty of people out there right now who will be prepared to GM full time forever, though not always for the right reasons, I have to say. However I think that there will be a gradual movement towards GM sharing which might even eventually reach the stage where if you're not prepared to take your turn as GM you will find it difficult finding a group that's prepared to carry you along as a player.
Just my opinion, though!
I would like to add a cautionary note or two against rule-bloat.
Being a simulationist style player, the rules and the gaming world for me are inextricably linked.
When a new rule comes out that enables a PC to do something new, unless there's a good reason not to that means that every suitable NPC in the world can also do it. Which then means that the world has to react and change in the light of this new ability that has now become available.
The rules are like the physical laws of the universe. They drive what the world looks like. The more rules you have, however, the harder it is to understand their repercussions, and if you don't understand their repercussions you are in danger of making parts of your world nonsensical.
Or at least in need of change if you want it to be, in its own way, believable.
Rules bloat can also make adventure writing more difficult. The last thing any of us would like to see is disclaimers on adventures along the lines of "at the time of writing, this module provided a suitable challenge for four characters of Nth level as long as they included someone with the ability to do X but *not* someone able to do Y!"
Just my 2 cents worth
I'm a bit confused about what might or might not be allowed within the compatibility licence with regards to citations of other Paizo products.
For example, if you look at this amazon link:
- you'll see Mystery Monsters Revisited described under Book Description in a manner which I understand comes under the classification of a "citation".
Would that paragraph break the terms of the compatibility licence if it was in such a product, because it would be termed a reference rather than a citation?
Personally, what I would like to do (although it's not mega-important), is to have a citation along the lines of "Brazen Medusas are described in detail in Mythical Monsters Revisited by Paizo Publishing LLC" but I'm sort of scratching my head about whether that would be ok according to the licence or not.
There was a dungeon in Dungeon (3.5 days) where the para-elemental plane of Ooze had broken through into a city's sewer systems.
The gateway was two-way.
I was GM, and I tried to give plenty of clues as the party tried swimming through the stuff - "the sewerage is getting thicker and thicker, it feels like muddy water, maybe treacle, thick treacle ..."
6 out of 8 party members decided to go for it anyway.
Players (after realising they're not breaking through the stuff): "Can we get back?"
Me: "I suppose there's a chance you might just stumble across the gateway again if you try "swimming" in what you reckon might be the way you came ....."
We rolled some dice. They didn't come back.
I'll tell you the most evil thing I did as a GM:
The party opens a door into a room covered by magical darkness - of the deepest kind. A voice speaks from within:
"Please do not bring any light into this room as my gaze has a curse that it turns all it falls upon to ashes. There is an exit from the room at this end, however you must walk straight across if you are to avoid taking damage from trapped areas of brown mold under the floor."
There are, indeed, areas of trapped brown mold under the floor, which can be detected even through the darkness. However floating in the middle of the room is a sphere of annihilation.
The voice, of course, is just a magic mouth. Most of the party trusted it, even when they gathered that others were disappearing they just thought it was some sort of teleportal. Two players didn't trus it - they went around the room and found a mouldy skeleton on an old throne with a scepter and a crown. One put on the crown (loony) and thence gained the ability to turn people to ashes with his gaze, which he subsequently did to the other.
It was a very long time ago, and was my homage to Tomb of Horrors.
To my mind being *evil* as a GM is setting up situations where characters get themselves killed but can only blame themselves.
Another situation I set up when I was thinking along similar lines was having an imp being rude and unpleasant (but not attacking) players by the door to a room, then having the owning magic user have his most powerful death spell ready on the other side for the second the players opened the door. The players had simply forgotten that an imp can be a magic-user's familiar.